‘I still have rough days, but the difference is that now I don’t let anxiety control my life.’
“I’ve always loved to perform. I’ve played piano, sung, acted and danced. I’m not sure why it started, but in the ninth-grade I started having bad anxiety attacks. I didn’t know that’s what they were at first. I thought I was going crazy.
“The first time I remember it happening, I had a solo at a concert and I thought, ‘I’m going to throw up and pass out at the same time.’ The next day I didn’t go to school because I thought I was sick. I started avoiding going to chorus class because I still associated singing with being nauseous. That expanded to not wanting to go to school, to eventually not leaving my house for days at a time. I couldn’t even have people over.
“When I was a kid, I’d look forward to going to school. Now, I switched to home-schooling. I heard rumors that I was dead or that I had gone to a mental hospital. I had completely stopped singing and couldn’t even do it in my own home. I was in therapy, but the anxiety was relentless.
This summer I will be starting school at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. People with anxiety should know that life does get better.
“Eventually, I switched to a private school for kids like me. It gave me a sense of normalcy. In 11th-grade, I was still having anxiety attacks, but they were easier to push through because I knew what they were. I nervously went to a gathering with old friends where I realized that instead of disliking me, people missed me. That was a huge switch for me. I decided to go back to my high school because I was ready to face my fears. I realized how much I’d lost.
“My first time performing again was my audition for Long Island High School for the Arts. It felt great to get back to singing. It was so ironic that as soon as I was able to go to school, it was March 2020, and I couldn’t go because of COVID! I dedicated myself to my art.
“In 12th-grade, I heard they were doing ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ but I hadn’t performed in a play since eighth-grade. I got the role of Audrey. It was a big challenge for me to get comfortable singing in front of people, especially ‘Suddenly Seymour,’ because it has so much emotional significance for me. I still have rough days, but the difference is now I don’t let anxiety control my life. This summer I will be starting school at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. People with anxiety should know that life does get better.”